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Smoke & Mirrors with K-Ming Chang

(Read the Story) September 21, 2020

K-Ming Chang

K-Ming Chang

The first thing I notice when reading “Vengeance” is the rapid-fire pacing of the story. What does one paragraph do for your story that multiple paragraphs or pages necessarily wouldn’t?

I think that it makes the text an overwhelming presence, almost like it’s a bit out of control and that the reader is caught in its undertow—I wanted to create that lack of structure or order and highlight the girls’ perpetual action, their brashness, their slipping grasp on their own narrative.

What other sacrifices has the group offered to deities? This doesn’t seem like their first rodeo.

I love this question! I imagine that they’ve sacrificed a lot—maybe body parts, entire men, beloved stuffed animals and straw dolls, their mothers’ wedding jewelry, everything they weren’t supposed to touch.

The idea of counterfeit rain strikes me as singular, so I’m wondering what is the market value for such a commodity and who stocks it?

Since the worsening of the California drought is no doubt caused by climate change, I think corporations and capitalism are definitely hoarding rain from us, and that it’s been stolen. I don’t know where it’s being kept from us, but I hope it can be summoned and revived in a new future.

Why does it strike the group that flies and mosquitoes are the vessels for reincarnation cycles?

They’ve been told not to kill flies near the altar, or insects in general, because it might be a surrogate for a recently deceased person’s soul, since the soul remains in other living things for a while before departing. So they know that their souls will be carried by insects and decide that they want to fly.

You are a professional investigator: If she wasn’t part of the original group, how did the body of a girl come to be in the creek of skeletons, crows, dogs, and raccoons?

I don’t know, but I’m haunted by it! Sadly, in our world, girls who disappear are sometimes treated as no more significant than dogs or crows or raccoons—there has been no justice or vengeance delivered on her behalf, and the girls know and mourn this viscerally, and they decide they cannot be her.

About the Author

K-Ming Chang is a Kundiman fellow, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and the winner of a 2019 Pushcart Prize in poetry. Her debut novel, Bestiary, is forthcoming from One World/Random House in September 2020.

This interview appeared in Issue Sixty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-Nine
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